Growing Outside

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


The second movie finishes mid-afternoon, days and days into a dreary week. I don’t know when we last had sun, but I know that the solar powered battery is run down. At least five days, probably longer. Rain. Rain. The soil is too wet to turn over, let alone plant. Small puddles of water are pooled everywhere that large pools haven’t completely obliterated the lawn.

I wander through the house, feeling agitated. I want to be doing something. I want to plant something. And then I notice my oldest son slipping out the back door, wearing his coat and boots. Several minutes later, he wanders by the window, stick waving wildly, chasing imaginary foes. My daughter notices and heads downstairs. “I’m going out, Mummy!” “Ooh!” says their youngest brother, “Me too!” I insist that he (finally) get dressed after two days in PJ’s. We have been storm stayed, but the cabin fever is winning. Everybody suitably attired, I wander out after them. There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go. We are just wandering, playing, chasing the critters, counting chickens, throwing a stick for the neighbour’s dog. It is so much a part of them that I don’t need to add anything.

I wander down the driveway, and they follow. “Oh! A walk! Let’s go for a walk!” says my daughter. Her brother scrambles after, not to be left out of anything, ever, “Me too!” “You coming?” I ask the orc-slayer. “No,” he says, stick swinging more gently, as is his wont when the younger ones are around. And I know what I need to do to get my children to love the outdoors: nothing.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.

15 responses to “Growing Outside”

  1. I love love love this post. It says everything about the whims and the nature of children. They belong outdoors, and somewhere somehow, they know it :).

    • It’s true. I don’t have to do anything, I don’t have to plan anything, I don’t even have to provide anything, I just have to let them be. Thanks!

  2. Love this! I am a firm believer that kids don’t need outdoor toys to have a good time. Sticks, rocks, dirt and a good old-fashioned loooong walk is all you need. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Occasionally, despite the fact that he seems to take after his warm-weather loving mama, Kieran will surprise me and ask to go out in the rain or snow. More often I urge him out and he refuses – but I think the problem there is that I’m not going with him. Good for you for joining your little ones outside – I need to follow your lead on those not-so-nice days!

    • Ah. What you may not know is that there are several drowning hazards around my property, and my youngest has become fiercely independent, but not so wise as to stay away from the creek. I don’t really have much choice in whether to venture out into the rain. I must say, though, that it was a huge improvement over sitting around waiting for it to clear up. (It is still raining a week later. Sigh. Anybody have a nice dry climate to suggest that need a physics professor and farming family?)

  4. My kids are the same, it if weren’t for them I wouldn’t get nearly so much fresh air. I’ve also been amazed at how, since we moved from the city to the countryside, my son has given up playing with toys altogether. Sticks, stones, soil, water, paper and string are all he wants and the things he creates with them, amazing. Kids are so productive, creative, adventurous, they really do put us to shame!

  5. *sigh*

    How I long for a little patch of grass we can call ours. Yes, we have the park and the garden — but it’s a bit of a trek to get there. I would love to be able to just tumble outside, even in the rain. Because the way things are, I don’t really have to do anything to get the Critter to love the outdoors, but I do have to put in some effort to get him to the outdoors!

  6. I love this post! Our part of the world sees more than its far share of the rain, but if we can get outside every day, even for just a little bit I can see such a difference in my little ones. Kids are often so naturally inclined toward nature, it is our society that keeps them from it.

  7. What a beautiful, poetic post! I love how the outdoors calls to us all after too much time inside. And I love your point that you don’t have to force the love at all or provide the entertainment.

  8. […] Due to my hurt foot, I missed out on the most recent Carnival of Natural Parenting, which was about connecting children with nature. In her carnival post, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud wrote about cultivating abundance, and Seonaid, The Practical Dilettante, explained that to get her children to love the outdoors, she does nothing. […]